Identification and Life Cycle
The German cockroach is one of the more common, and smaller of the cockroach species. They have adapted successfully to living with humans in houses, apartments, restaurants, hotels, and other institutions.
The adult has two dark parallel lines running from the back of its head to the wings and is 1/2 to 5/8- inch long with a flat elongated body that is a light or dark brown. They have six legs, a set of long antennae, and wings (they do not fly). Nymphs (baby/young), are smaller in appearance to the adults, and lack wings.
German cockroaches produce a large number of eggs per capsule and undergo a short time from hatching until sexual maturity. This results in a rapid population growth which can make them difficult to control.
The females produce a light brown, purse-shaped egg capsule that is less than 1/4 -inch long and contains two rows of eggs. Each egg capsule contains approximately 30 to 40 eggs, and females can produce up to 4 to 8 egg capsules during their lifetime. The average lifespan of the adult female can vary from 20 to 30 weeks.
They can be found usually in damp environments such as bathrooms and kitchens (near dishwashers, stoves, refrigerators and sinks). Cockroaches are mostly scavengers and will feed on a wide variety of foods preferably starches, sweets, grease, and meat products.
Habits and Damage
- The German cockroach is known as an urban pest. It is the most frequently found pest in houses, apartments and restaurants. They can travel easily on deliveries and can spread widely and quickly throughout an area. They can be seen anywhere food is processed, stored or served.
- Since cockroaches are nocturnal, they are mostly active at night to obtain food, water, and to reproduce. Their wide, flat bodies enable them to live and move in and out of cracks, crevices and voids. They are attracted to a moist environment with a relatively high degree of warmth. They can be often found in kitchens, bathrooms, in sewers, basements, and around pipes and drains.
- Cockroaches produce odorous secretions that can affect the flavor of various foods (at high populations). They carry disease causing bacteria and germs on their legs and bodies that are then deposited on food and utensils as they search for food. This can cause food poisoning, diarrhea and other illnesses.
- Their excrement and cast off skin also contain a number of allergens which can trigger allergic reactions in people (especially in children). These reactions can include skin rashes, watery eyes, sneezing, congestion of nasal passages and asthma.
COMMON SIGNS OF COCKROACH ACTIVITY
- Visual sightings. When a severe infestation is present, cockroaches can often be seen during the day.
- Odor. In large numbers, cockroaches can give off a strong “oily” odor.
- Shell Casings.These are the egg capsules from recently hatched cockroaches.
- Fecal Droppings. Dark colored specs consisting of fecal pellets & regurgitated food that look similar to grains of ground pepper.
Prevention and Management
The best strategy for managing cockroaches is Sanitation, Inspection/Detection and Control. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can help maintain a roach-free environment to suit your specific level of infestation.
Sanitation. Clean any food/water spills and fix leaky pipes to eliminate free-standing water. Common feeding areas include unwashed dishes, uncovered pet food containers, litter boxes, waste containers, and areas under refrigerators, stoves and sinks.
Inspection and Detection. Cockroach trapping is sometimes necessary to identify and determine the extent of an infestation. This can be done by placing insect monitors at strategic locations.
Control. The most effective method of controlling cockroaches is using a combination of treatments; Sprays (residual/non-residual) are used in cracks & crevices where the cockroaches hide and areas where they walk in search of food. Dusts are used to penetrate cockroaches living in small hiding areas that sprays cannot reach. Baits are used in areas that cannot be sprayed or dusted. The bait is carried back by the cockroach to the nesting area.
The following steps can be taken to help prevent or reduce a potential problem with cockroaches.
- Wipe off spilled foods/drinks on counters, tables & stovetops after food preparation & meals using a cleaning solution, i.e., vinegar & water.
- Do not leave dirty dishes out overnight.
- Store items such as cereal, cookies, flour & bread in airtight containers.
- Empty garbage daily and remove all piles of newspaper & cardboard boxes.
- Install door sweepers to insure that doors close tightly.
- Screen drainage holes in bathtubs & sinks.
- Seal all cracks & crevices around plumbing pipes, electrical and gas lines, and in cupboards.
- Fix leaky pipes, faucets and other plumbing problems.